Thoughts on Pain and Politics

Haneul Na’avi
15 August 2014

Video of International Solidarity Campaign reading the list of children that have been killed during the 2014 Israeli pogrom against Gaza. Please adjust your volume accordingly.

Today, I am inclined to speak on a different subject matter; one which does not originate from the intellect of my brain, but from the recesses of my heart.

No statistics, citations or sources can fully bolster what I witnessed, nor could any recollection of events fully express what I felt that day on July 19th, when I had marched in solidarity with stouthearted men and women from around the world against the incomprehensible crimes against humanity being committed in the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, even a small keyhole adds some security to one’s daily life.

I was merely a drop in the ocean of what was a 100,000-person procession of protesters from all walks of life, from all regions of London, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and the world. A miscellany of communities and intellectual affinities merged in thought and purpose to support the rally. Young and old marched together in unified purpose during the four-mile walk to our destination. Throughout the cavalcade, differences in matter and opinion, religion and affinities were put on hold, and as we stood in front of the Israeli embassy in Kensington, nervous diplomats and security personnel paced back and fourth in anticipation of what was to come.

Accomplished spokespersons gave sermons of social justice that spoke to the hearts and souls of the attendees of the march—both voluntary and involuntary—and as their words resonated through the air and airwaves via cellphone recordings, social media uploads, and the thundering voices over the loudspeaker, there was one such salient moment that passed in which, I do not believe I will ever be the same person again, and as I clumsily attempt to put the experience into words, I relive the agonizing experience.

As the master of ceremonies read the list of fallen children—persons aged 18 and under—murdered in a reptilian fashion by the IDF, something told me to record, so I did. I opened the camera function on my phone and, with the last waning moments of battery, I began filming the crowd’s reaction to the role call of those who would never respond.

Some archaic cultures believe that the camera can imprison the soul in its film. What I had captured was the grief of thousands at the epicenter of the protest, and a black hole opened up in my heart, devouring everything.

As I began to pivot, slowly filming a clockwise panorama of the assembly, I saw the weary, dejected, and grief-stricken faces of a thousand broken hearts, each with reddened, teary eyes, and some with trembling mouths. Panning on, I observed a woman, her mouth covered by her hands in mourning, and a massive, stout young man, in fatigues, holding together what appeared to be the moments before an emotional collapse.

As I finished filming the panorama amongst the gentle sounds of weeping during the moment of silence, the frail and cracking voice of the orator refused to let up on his list until it was read in its entirety, and the sinking feeling of nauseating culpability and epiphanic empathy welled within my whole body. I began to stand there, amongst the crowd, internalizing what I had just surveyed, and did my best to remain respectful of the remembrance of those that had been lost by remaining silent.

However, as the protracted list of innocent victims waned, it became too much for some of the observers. One of the same men behind me, in a spontaneous moment of cathartic indignation, shouted “Allah Akhbar,” which was then quickly echoed by other protesters, then chanted in union, repeatedly, in front of the Israeli embassy. This made the speaker pause briefly, then to continue reading the list until the very end, which marked the final life that had ended all too soon, but only for that day. For the reader, he knew that the list would grow larger—expand—and next week, he would have to read it again amongst a public worn out and battered from war and loss.

I stared with a far-off gaze, confounded internally and surrounded by the intense, collective suffering of a people. I have never been the same person since.

In that moment of empathy, I realized that I was one of a small percentage of Americans taking place in the demonstration. I reached down, feeling for my passport, and felt the connection of 32 years of bureaucratic allegiance to the country that directly supported UN Resolution 181, which had carved up Palestinian territory prior during the Nakba between 1947-1949, and was historically and unceasingly a financier to the amount of 3 billion USD per annum to the IDF, further occupation, oppression, displacement, and ruin of Palestinians.

The long history of soft coups that America has engaged in since its first act of desecration of the American Indians now ran through untold wickedness leading up to the events in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, East Ukraine, and now marched towards the Russian border in the Donbas.  I felt that, just the signature on my passport made me an accessory to murder. Every tax form, every college loan, and every contribution and affiliation to the nation I made in the past had empowered and fueled the nearly 70-year military industrial complex that was currently ethnically cleansing relatives and neighbors of the people around me.

This enraged me, filled me with a sense of anguish and shame that I desperately tried to repress as I heard the chanting of the masses. As the cracks in my blank façade began to show, a young British man, roughly in his late 20s, beside my friend and me, spoke.

“Hey, where are you from,” he asked with a light, but rugged cheerfulness.

“The States…” I said, hesitantly, with a sudden nagging pain in my throat.

“Oh, great! It’s good to have you out here,” he replied. “Welcome to London!”

I nodded and then let out an inconspicuous sigh as we both watched the hosts wrap up the final minutes of their speech. Slogans continued to reverberate throughout the stone buildings of Kensington with the strength of a field army, and taking in another breath, I gathered whatever resolve I had within me and walked over to some of the men standing nearby, including the young man I had spoken to, in order to shake their hands and pat them briskly on their shoulders.

Leaning in slightly, I quickly replied in my usual pragmatic manner, “I’m sorry, guys… for all of this. This shit has got to end.”

As I began to walk away from the group, the crowd began to disband. The massive assembly, from its meeting place at Downing Street to the final convention in Kensington peacefully gathered, was peacefully conducted, and just as tranquilly returned to a sense of normalcy. Saudis in long, white and flowing thwabs trekked back home with their friends and relatives. Iraqi men and women strolled alongside Palestinians men and women to return home, chattering away endlessly in dialects of Arabic about the events of the day. I was the same with my friends, bantering away about my feelings towards the Israeli occupation and the admirable resilience of the Palestinians, as well as the resistance fighters in Donbas.

That fateful day, the events in Kensington Square remained burned into my consciousness. I then felt the resolve to do more… much more and with much more determination than before. Prior to the protest, I was merely a shallow and distant observer, vicariously watching the news and muttering protests of indignation at the telecasts of current affairs played religiously on my MacBook. After the march, everything had changed. I had to look people in the eyes that had or were losing everything in their homeland, at the hands of people who had experienced the same in World War II, and, much like the mechanics of abuse, had lost everything to Zionists, whom passed that disease of fascism on to the leaders of Israel and many of her sons and daughters.

The rape of Palestine, to me, is a caricature of absurdity, of the collapsing, fraudulent, misguided, and deeply divided international community, in which America, the supposed land of the free, voted no to seeking justice for the Palestinian lives lost, and where all of Europe actually improved in their consensus by abstaining, rather than voting, for Israel’s crimes against Palestine. Where countries like Cuba, Sierra Lione, China, Ecuador and Venezuela spoke up and in accordance to human rights in favor of a global condemnation of the actions of brutalizers in the Knesset. The third and developing world chose to speak out against Israel, and the developed and first world countries of the UN revealed their priorities, which lay in perfect inhumanity.

To date, by the numbers of the United Nations, close to 2,000 people—approximately 80% of them civilians and mostly women and children—have left this earth violently at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces and their controllers in Tel Aviv. To this very day, the corporate-controlled, pro-Israeli media in the United States, Israel, and Europe have, in what could only be labeled as a public relations’ stunt, condemned the Palestinians to endless slander and fallacious justifications. To date, Barack Obama has signed over another 250 million USD to Israel to fuel the Iron Dome defense system while the IDF violates international law in ways that continue to baffle the general public. Not only do Palestinians suffer, but so do those that actually adhere to the Torah as a Jew and a person of peace.

Talking-head IDF spokespersons condemn the actions of a few Hamas “terrorists”, stating that they use their citizens as human shields, while denying the evidence that grossly and disproportionately lopsided casualties have taken place between the IDF and Hamas. A body count of 80% civilians means that, when we do the math based a death toll of 2,000 people means that one Hamas soldier needs 5 human shields at all times, leading to 400 slain combatants and 1,600 civilian casualties. Judging by the massacre that occurred on the Mavi Marmara in 2011, I would bet money that the IDF’s soldiers were merciless, indiscriminate killers that wouldn’t hesitate to use some of their 400+ nuclear weapons on Gaza and the West Bank in order to exterminate all Palestinians, in favor of eliminating some conveniently labeled “terrorists”. They don’t, however, because they want the land for themselves. Meanwhile, they’re the only ones with weapons of mass destruction in the MENA region and one will never, in the existence of our species on Earth, see a Western nation such as America sanction or condemn them, because its just good business to keep the region partitioned. However, the people are waking up. Even the new British Foreign Minister, Phillip Hammond, realizes this, and told Netanyahu to his face that, “The people are losing sympathy for you”.

The ethnic cleansings of Palestinians are nothing more than an illustration of what happens when America and its NATO allies go to war against autonomous nations around the world. There’s always a “responsibility to protect”, a “moral imperative” that forces these imperialist nations to go to war, and they more often than not act against the interests and ambitions of the citizens of foreign nations and their democratically elected representatives.

Israel’s actions are no different. Palestine was autonomous before the Nakba, and if there were a genuine interest in maintaining a two-state solution, then, in the Knesset, they would have an inclusive, democratic parliament where all ethnicities were represented. There would be no need for people like Benjamin Netanyahu or Ayelet Shaked, who, on her Twitter feed, and I quote, stated:

Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

One commonly hears this drivel from the mouths of demagogues in world history that have been responsible for world wars. I remember hearing stories in school of how Hitler gassed the Jews in massive concentration camps in Poland, and how this act was so terrible, unforgivable, but as an adult, the mainstream, Zionist-led media never revealed to me of the full horrors of the ultra-nationalists in Tel Aviv which massacred Palestinians with white phosphorous and full-scale bombing campaigns during Operation Protective Edge, and how these egregious criminal acts are still in full motion, supported by the West in 2014, not in the 1940s. We have learned nothing as a society but how to support the interests of the elite if we continue to carry out their orders for war. Like Nazis, they have made every attempt through their propaganda that anyone that questions their fascist policies is labeled an “anti-Semite” just as American policymakers labels critical thinkers “conspiracy theorists”, and yet, conspiracy theory is precisely what a propagandist uses to further his or her agenda.

All of the mechanisms of the Third Reich are here, in the now, and are in place in Israel, right down to the invasion of foreign territory, the history and philosophy of Zionist Lebensraum, the forced sterilization of Ethiopian Jews, and yes, the support for Nazism and Zionism by transnational corporations. What happens in the Knesset is a direct mirror of fascism, which, in all cases, thrives off of a scapegoat for its expansion and propaganda, and just like America supported the Nazis during Operation Paperclip, they support the Likud through the direct investments of American citizens, their ignorance and fear of people in faraway lands, and their yearly tithes to the Administration.

…and THAT, my friends, is what made me so angry that day: To know that I was a direct contributor to the mass genocide of Palestinian people—through my own ignorance and compliance with the war hawks in Capital Hill. I read about the genocide against Africans or American Indians in my schoolbooks, carried on with self-righteous polemics with my friends and family, but not once did I realize how I was directly involved… that we are all involved until we divest from the death machine that is imperialism. The only way to kill a vampire is to stop its supply of fresh blood, and drive a stake through its useless heart, or drag his rotten, elitist carcass into the light. As a society, and as an individual, that is precisely what we must do in order to prevail. The BDS movement is that iron stake—that rigid steel I can help hold steady to stop the heart of imperialism cold.

I can tell you one thing, though. I want no more fallen comrades. I can no longer watch the dominos of sovereign nations fall as the unseen hands of corporate forces topple all of what our multipolar humanity has built. I cannot stand by and idly watch another Libya, Syria, Iraq, Donbas, or Palestine be torn to pieces by the National Endowment for Democracy, Rand Corporation, or the Independent Republican Institute, John McCain, Victoria Nuland, or Donald Rumsfeld—they are only as successful as the level of assistance we give them because we remove culpability from ourselves and never learn the struggles of the victim. They foment chaos in lands where fully capable citizens can solve their own problems, and where their disingenuous humanitarian interventions trump real democracy.

Humanity’s distance from the suffering of others is what makes it continue. We trust the media and keep quiet. Our lack of questioning and our staunch trust in propaganda is what props up this teetering foundation. To eradicate this ignorance, we must speak to Palestinians. We must reach out to those in foreign lands in order to hear their stories. Dialogue brings understanding—It is what the Greeks used to come to such an age of Wisdom and elevated consciousness, and philosophers refer to it as Dialectics.

You, the reader of this article, if you have not done so yet, will never know how the objective world influences your subjective cocoon of complacency until you hear of a person’s story, of how their land was taken, their families violated, and their homes shelled beyond recognition. This is one of many stories I have listened to, from homeless persons in the United States, to fighters in Eastern Ukraine, and now, the slaughter of peaceful people in Palestine. My ancestors have their own history of suffering, as every demographic has their own.

If you can, take the pain of your life and use it to build hope for others. This is the only way that humanity can survive the coming winter. I understand this more now than ever.

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